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Hi All,

So we begin the last week of April and what has been a cool and very dry month is set to end up on an even cooler note this week with some very raw northerly winds forecast and already present in Scotland. The Meteoblue prognosis for Thursday this week clearly highlights the trough of cold air we are set to experience and you can see it’s not only us. The cold air will extend down through most of Scandinavia, France, Germany, Switzerland, Spain and Portugal as well. As I type this I can see people out for their morning run in a T-Shirt and shorts, not for long I’d say, not for long…coldairtroughApril17

But don’t put those shorts and sandals too far down in the draw because I reckon next week we may have our first proper heat of the year with early twenties likely. Just like we did in 2016, we will finish April cold and start May very warm, uncanny like.

So without further ado, let’s see how this chilly week is set to pan out…

General Weather Situation

So Monday starts with that cold front already present over Scotland and here we will see wintry showers for the north and north east of Scotland. We will also see some showers of rain over Wales, The Midlands, the north of England through Monday morning with a heavy band of rain moving down the north east coast of England. They’ll also be some showers, fewer and far between though across East Munster and these will track south and east through the morning pushed along by a north west wind. That wind is a feature of the day because as the cold air moves south it’ll be joined by a northerly rather than north westerly wind. This process won’t occur till Tuesday for central and southern England. As we go though Monday afternoon, skies brighten over Ireland and northern England, but that rain across the north east will be pushing down the coast into The Midlands and east of England later in the day. The wintry showers will also be on the move pushing down into northern England later on with snow over The Pennines later today ending up across the north east of England. As skies brighten later the temperature will drop rapidly leading to a widespread frost over England, Wales and some parts of Scotland. A wide variation in temperature with high single figures over Scotland and low to mid-teens across the south of England pushed along by a light to moderate, variable direction wind.

As we start Tuesday that cold feel will be apparent across the U.K and Ireland but we will see plenty of winter, I mean spring sunshine through the day across most of England, Wales and Ireland. The north east of Scotland though will see a continuation of those wintry showers and we will also see some lighter wintry showers over Central Scotland. These will push south across the Pennines through the course of Tuesday morning reaching the north Midlands by the afternoon and falling mainly as rain. As we progress through the afternoon we will see more showers pushing south over Wales, The Midlands and again especially down the east coast from The Humber Estuary south. Ireland looks to have a mainly bright, sunny but cold day though there will be some wintry showers over Donegal and north west Connacht through the afternoon. Temperature-wise, all change for the south of England as we join the single figure club along with Scotland, Ireland and Wales, with 7-9°C more the norm for Tuesday, kept down by an increasingly raw, moderate to strong, northerly wind.

Overnight into Wednesday and we have another risk of ground frost for Scotland and central regions of Ireland and England with maybe the west coast and Wales just mild enough to miss it. A dry start soon gives way to a mix of rain and sleet pushing down the east coast of England through into The Midlands later. Ireland will see rain over Donegal slowly move south into north Leinster and Munster through the course of the afternoon after a dry morning. There’s also a risk of wintry showers over Central Scotland and these look set to move south through the afternoon. So a largely dry start to the day but increasingly cloudy with some wintry showers with the highest risk down the east coast of England. Central and western regions of England, along with Wales look to have a bright, crisp and cold mid-week. Temperature-wise 7-10°C I’d say the norm for Wednesday accompanied by a moderate northerly wind.

Onto Thursday and we are set for a cloudy and cool day with wintry showers starting from the off across Scotland, maybe more central and westerly this time. This front of cloud will push south across most of the U.K and Ireland so a dull, cool day in store for many. Through the course of the morning that cloud will thicken enough for some rain coming down off The Mersey and pushing into The Midlands later in the day with a higher risk of showers across the east coast again as we progress through the afternoon.  So for many Thursday will be a dull, cool day with temperatures creeping up a little into double figures possibly for Scotland, Wales and Central England as that wind begins to move round slightly to the north west. So temperatures maybe just creeping up to 7-11°C, with the higher temperatures across the west.

Closing out the week on Friday we see that shift in the wind direction continue to westerly and that’ll continue to slowly lift temperatures up across Ireland, England and Wales. Another dull day with lots of cloud cover and some of it across Connacht may be thick enough for some mizzly, drizzle across Sligo and Mayo. The same may be true for East Anglia with a thick cloud mass forecast for Friday afternoon. It will be dry again for many with the exception being the north west of Scotland where you’ll see some showers push through in the afternoon / evening. Still cool despite the wind now being westerly south westerly, with 8-12°C, the temperature range across the U.K and Ireland, with the mildest temperatures across the south and west.

Now as we come to the weekend we see another weather change with a deep Atlantic low pressure pushing in and this is set to introduce a lot of wind and some welcome rain. So Saturday sees this band of rain pushing into the west of Ireland from the start of Saturday morning and by lunchtime it’ll be across most of Ireland and nipping the west coast of Scotland as well. Further south and east of this we will just see cloud and lots of it, so another dull day is on the cards. This band of rain will push east into all areas of the U.K later on Saturday, maybe early doors Sunday clearing Ireland as it does so. Since it’s a northerly low, it will feel cool in that strong westerly wind and this unsettled, cool and windy theme is set to last the whole weekend with further blustery showers forecast for Sunday along with a very strong westerly wind. Temperature-wise I think we will be 10-12°C, so nothing marvellous to shout about.

Now onto the following week…

Weather Outlook

So next week looks to start unsettled with more sunshine and showers and mild on that strong westerly wind. This continues through Tuesday but as we close out Tuesday, high pressure is set to push in from the south and east and stabilise our weather. Bad news for the areas desperate for rain because this high will pull up warm wind from the south and this will really ramp up temperatures from Wednesday, next week onwards, into the twenties I believe. Uncanny because as you’ll see from my notes below we went through the same process last year at exactly the same time.

Agronomic Notes

Lots to chat through this week…

Dry and Cool, that’s April 2017…

Firstly looking at April up until the end of last week we can see why for some it has been a bruising month, especially if you’re maintaining Poa annua-dominated greens as most of us are in the real world.

BrayGPRainaPRIL2017

Thanks to John at Bray Golf Club (that’s Bray in Co. Wicklow, south of Dublin for all you people scrambling for Google Maps :)) for sending over his GDD / G.P spreadsheet.

You may think comparing an Irish location with England isn’t relevant but if you look at the rainfall pattern, a total of 6mm in April, you can see they are as dry as we are on the east coast of Ireland. Many locations haven’t seen decent rainfall since the 3rd week of March so we are very dry this spring. Next week as we start May I’ll be doing my multi-location round up so we can compare stats, but for now looking at Bray, we are dry.

We are dry but also cold because you can see that during April we only had one day at this location where the daily growth potential exceeded 0.4, up until and including the 21st of April, so in other words growth levels were below-optimum.

Not great for Poa….

Poaannuaperannual

Dry cold as we know is a poor combination of conditions for Poa annua and it is during these conditions you become intimately familiar with the different biotypes in your greens. The image above shows a typical mixture of coarser, annual Poa annua biotype with thicker leaves, paler colour and seedheads already present and alongside it we have denser, bunch-type, perennial Poa annua with its slower growth rate, finer leaves and lack of seedheads (currently)

So if you roll a golf ball across this surface it won’t be smooth and consistent unless you are cutting low, have a light topdressing in place (to smooth out inconsistency) and are brushing regularly. The problem is trying to produce a surface in April isn’t likely to be easy when the plant isn’t growing sufficiently fast enough to grow through topdressing. Verticutting to get a smooth surface is only going to put the Poa under more stress so the best strategy if you’re in a situation of uneven surfaces is ‘little but often’. That ‘little but often’ relates to nutrition, topdressing and cultural work because we literally have to nurse the plant through these conditions until they change.

Now of course if you did all your aeration work earlier in the spring when we had moisture and temperature, you are unlikely to be faced with this situation, or less likely anyway.

Bit of disease around..

SpringFusarium

Last week we started the week with frosts but by the end of the week and over the weekend we had some milder nights and with some humidity around by Thursday / Friday so we saw an increasing amount of Microdochium nivale on fine turf. Now it didn’t look like winter Microdochium, it was more copper, yellow in colour and the patches weren’t as distinct but I feel pretty sure that the majority of it was this pathogen. So that combination of temperature, humidity and reasonably light, night time winds has driven the activity of this pathogen on.

For sure there’s also likely to be elevated levels of plant stress currently with the prolonged dry spell and this may indeed contribute to some plant pathogenic nematode activity as well but the cooling soil will have slowed down their activity for the time-being. Fortunately over the weekend, the milder night and day temperatures has also given us a growth kick, but this will soon be departing stage left as those cold, northerly winds arrive.

Looking ahead…GPApril2417

You can see from the GDD / Growth Potential schematic for this location in Central England that Tuesday to Thursday this week is pretty much a right off, growth-wise, so my advice is to sit tight on nutrition, PGR’s, selective herbicide applications and the like till we get through this cold spell and the unsettled period coming up over The Bank Holiday weekend (for some of us anyway). We aren’t going to go into a spring growth flush over the weekend, however if the weather pans out as expected, we will be in a whole new world this time next week and that’s the time to act in my view…

2016 all over again….

May2016GP1stweek

Now ‘if’ the weather does pan out as predicted and we run into a warm high pressure from mid-week, next week we will go from no growth to rapid growth pretty much overnight and that’s just what happened in 2016 for the same time period (see above). We went from a near frost on the 3rd of May and a Growth Potential figure of 0.17 to a maximum Growth Potential of 1.0, 4 days later resulting in a burst of growth and importantly seedheads.

Remember last week in my mini-blog I remarked how we’d rocked up to the point where Poa annua had produced the seedhead, but at that point it was still down in ‘the boot’ as they say Stateside, well over the weekend with the milder nights we have seen an increase in visible seedhead activity as the panicle extends beyond the leaf sheath. That’ll stop this week but ‘if and when’ we hit the high pressure and warmth, we will go white very quickly.

For me I think in terms of regulating growth, getting a response from applied nutrition and / or a selective herbicide, applying just before this growth flush will be the objective.

Ok that’s all for this week, lots on plate as per usual. By Tuesday next week we will know if the weather is going to play ball, but in the meantime, dig out the wooly hat and buff and wrap up well for this week 🙂

All the best.

Mark Hunt